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Going green: MHS construction class building toward the future

Staff writer

Green is the new color at Marion High School.

Lucas King and his construction technology class began construction this fall on an energy efficient house at Marion County Park and Lake.

The class, which is in its third year and on its second full house, is constructing the 1,300-square foot cabin-style home for Marion attorney John Klenda.

The house sits just a few hundred feet from the lake, and on a 50-foot lot with 10-foot easements on both sides. That means the house only can be 30-feet wide.

“It’s going to be energy efficient just because it’s smaller,” King said.

However, it will be two stories in the back of the house, and just one in the front with vaulted ceilings.

“I’m kind of excited to see this because kids don’t usually get to [build] two-story houses,” King said.

The students are building the second level with the floor joints exposed, giving it “an old-school cabin feel,” according to King.

That allows for less Sheetrock and no sub floor, again cutting costs associated with the project.

The third-year MHS teacher did say the 22-foot ceilings are not the best for “going green,” but the class has found other ways to do so.

Most of the lumber used for the house is reclaimed or recycled Douglas fir from old gymnasium bleachers.

“[The wood is] straight, hardly any knots,” King said. “It’s awesome quality stuff.”

The house is built facing the south so the sunlight does most of the heating in the winter.

Energy efficient heating and air conditioning also lend a hand toward the class’ goal of building green.

The class has even used easy steps such as purchasing materials locally to stay green.

A fireplace in Klenda’s living room will be made of the limestone, which was dug on-site.

“You can go as crazy as you want, and it will cost you up front, or you can just do the simple things,” King said.

The class is focusing mainly on the latter.

King took a class at Flint Hills Vo-Tech this summer, which taught him practical ways of going green.

Now he is passing that on to his students.

On top of working on-site, they also are researching information on materials and putting together PowerPoints on how to build efficiently.

The class has been met with positive reviews since it began three years ago, and the combination of classroom and jobsite work has benefited the students.

“Some kids are taking it to learn a lifelong skill, and some are taking it because they are interested in going into it after high school,” King said. “It gets them out of the classroom and working with their hands.”

Finishing the job

King said now that the class is in its third year, the process is more polished than before.

He worked earlier in the summer laying concrete so the students would not be doing so into November like last year.

“The winter just killed us,” he said. “We did a lot, we just ran out of time.”

King thinks if everything goes right, the cabin should be finished sometime in April of next year.

“The class’ goal is to build a house every year,” he said.

Older students who have been in the class before are taking leadership roles, which helps the house move along faster.

King said there will be some sub-contracting, but the students will continue building right alongside the workers.

In the end, the students can say they took part in building a house, and helped move toward the new wave of energy efficient construction.

“I hope this sparks some interest in building more efficient homes in the future,” King said.

For more information on the construction technology class, e-mail King at kingluc@usd408.com.

Last modified Oct. 1, 2008

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